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The endurance oil

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Within the confines of an internal combustion engine, engine crankcase oil is expected to lubricate, cool, seal, maintain a high degree of cleanliness and protect against all forms of engine wear and corrosion. Not only must it do all this, it often also has to keep on doing so for long periods of time. In a sprint race of maybe a couple of hours' duration this may not be too much of a problem, but for the endurance racer, conducting what is becoming more and more of a series of sprint...

Compressed natural gas

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Many years ago, journalists and vehicle road testers used to talk about 'cooking engines'. At the time I understood it to be a term describing the performance of the unit, but I was unsure if it related to a high-performance, highly tuned engine or simply a fairly standard, docile unit reminiscent of a kitchen stove; the term meant nothing to me. Today, of course, with increasing awareness of fuel security and global warming, any engine described as 'cooking' must surely be...

The return of Viscosity Index

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At the time of writing, with two high-speed superspeedway events under their belts, oil formulators for NASCAR are at last breathing a sigh of relief. Since the fuel for this year has been revised to include 15% ethanol, subsequent post-race engine oil analysis has shown that there is no unexpected deterioration, and piston wear - although higher for the high-speed plate engine tracks - is no more than expected. But if we are honest, that was only of passing interest. With many events...

Ethanol and water - and disappearing octane!

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It could be that I'm giving the wrong impression here but on a cold winter's evening there is nothing I like so much as a small glass of whisky. Settling into my favourite armchair alongside the dying embers of a log fire and savouring the delights to come, I watch carefully as the dash of tepid water (not too much now!) is added to the tumbler and then slowly mixes. That it does so is one of life's extraordinary things, as the surplus electrons of the water's oxygen atoms...

Lubrication in Formula One

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The role of the lubricant in any tribological system is to eliminate component wear and minimise the frictional drag. This is as true for any road-going touring car engine as it is for one used in Formula One - indeed, in many ways the former is a far harder task since the engine has to be protected over a much wider range of operating conditions, summer and winter and often up to 20,000 miles between oil drains. In the case of the latter, the oil simply has to last only the race. However,...